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You Can't Go Home Again

From Battlestar Wiki, the free, open content Battlestar Galactica encyclopedia and episode guide
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"You Can't Go Home Again"
An episode of the Re-imagined Series
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Overview

Continuing from the events of "Act of Contrition", Commander Adama and Captain Lee Adama risk the security of the Fleet as they try to locate a downed Starbuck...

Summary

  • Kara Thrace is missing following a dogfight with Cylon Raiders (Act of Contrition). While he was forced out of the fight, Hot Dog is convinced her Viper was not destroyed.
  • Adama immediately orders a search started, and Lee Adama leads it in a Viper.
  • On the surface of a small moon, Starbuck awakes to find herself being dragged by a strong wind catching her parachute. Before she can cut herself free of the parachute lines, which have tangled about her legs, she is dragged a considerable distance, smashing her knee in the process.
  • When the initial space search fails to locate Starbuck’s Viper, Gaeta suggests she may be on the moon. Adama orders a low-level search of the moon’s surface. At the same time he accepts an offer from Roslin to have the ships of the Fleet continue the space search. Lt. Gaeta calculates that Starbuck has around 46 hours of air left in her oxygen tanks.
  • Tigh is worried that if they remain in the area too much longer, the Cylons might find them.
  • Aware she is probably being searched for, Starbuck determines to try and make her way to high ground, where she stands a better chance of being seen. Along the way, she asks the Lords of Kobol for help, and comes across a downed Cylon Raider from the confrontation leading to her crash.
  • As the search of the moon continues, the dust-laden atmosphere begins to have its effect on the Galactica’s Vipers: 13 are grounded due to mechanical problems. The constantly flying is causing other problems: Galactica’s fuel reserves for her fighters is being used at an alarming rate.
  • Tigh also points out that the Fleet is now spread right across the star system, leaving it vulnerable to attack should the Cylons show up.
  • On the moon, Starbuck is determined to make the Raider space-worthy, and sets about accessing it – only to find it is bio-mechanical: inside the vehicle is a mass of organs, veins and tubes.
  • As time passes, Adama and Lee further risks the Fleet by pulling in the CAP Vipers to assist with the search.
  • When the timer in the CIC indicates Starbuck’s air has (presumably) expired, Adama continues the search, relieving Tigh of his duties when he challenges the order.
  • With her air supply all but gone, Starbuck manages to find an oxygen supply hose in the Raider and seals the insides of the vehicle so she can breathe. She then sets out trying to work out how the Raider flies.
  • As Lee and Adama continue to monitor the search of the moon, Roslin arrives on Galactica. Determined to put a stop to things, she challenges both Adama and Lee concerning their single-mindedness and the way it is putting the survival of the fleet and mankind at risk.
  • Realising they have perhaps gone too far, Adama calls off the search and orders the Fleet readied to Jump.
  • With the Fleet successfully away, Galactica is about to Jump herself when a Cylon Raider appears. Vipers are prepped for launch, however a malfunction with Galactica's launch tubes allows only Capt. Adama's Viper to launch.
  • Making contact with the Raider, Lee discovers the truth – Starbuck is piloting the Raider; she used tape to write her name on the bottom of the Raider and flew formation with Lee's Viper. He escorts her back to Galactica, where she lands and is taken to sickbay.
  • Visiting her in sickbay later, Adama congratulates her on her performance – an indirect way of letting her know she is forgiven for Zak.

On Caprica

  • Helo and Valerii are still hiding in the “fallout shelter”, but Helo determines they must move on.
  • Cylon Centurions arrive, apparently conducting a search. A fight ensues.
  • Helo is knocked unconscious, and when he comes-to, Valerii is gone.

Summary from scifi.com

When Lt. Kara Thrace goes missing in action after encountering a Cylon patrol while on a training mission, Commander Adama feels responsible — especially in light of her recent admission that she blames herself for his son Zak's death.

Both Adama and Lee devote the full resources of the fleet to search for their missing fighter ace, causing some to wonder if it's worth risking the lives of 45,000 people to save one downed pilot. When President Roslin questions their motives and points out that Kara's oxygen was exhausted hours ago, they reluctantly call off the search.

But they haven't counted on Kara's resourcefulness and courage. Stranded on a red moon, her knee a twisted wreck, she struggles to relaunch a damaged Cylon fighter and return to Galactica. --This section --©2005, SCI FI. All rights reserved.

Questions

  • With almost 50% of fuel reserves gone, can Galactica obtain additional supplies to keep her Vipers flying? (Answer)
  • What use will be made of the captured Raider? (Answer)
  • How many more Cylon spacecraft include biological elements in their design? (Answer)
  • Will Helo now go in search of the “missing” Valerii? (Answer)
  • Will he question why the Cylon Centurion left him unconscious in the restaurant, rather than taking him prisoner? (Helo learns the truth by "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part II")

Analysis

Following-on from "Act of Contrition", this is again very much a character-driven episode in which the action is secondary to the developing and changing dynamics between the principal players. As with “Act”, it is also one where Edward James Olmos is able again to demonstrate his range and power as an actor: never has so much fury been portrayed on-screen with a single wide-eyed look as when Adama confronts Tigh. Of equal measure is the way in which Adama’s public loss of control in CIC is handled. Here is a man who is perhaps the closest thing to a deity his crew are ever likely to meet. Throughout the mini and the series, his demeanour has always been one of calm, understated authority. Never has he so much as raised his voice in public to achieve his needs. Where Tigh is bellicose and strutting, Adama is the calm eye at the centre of whatever raging storm of crisis might otherwise engulf CIC.

Until mid-way through this episode, where Adama’s signals a subtle shift in dynamics: his personal involvement is now clearly affecting his ability to command; his decision making is becoming increasingly subjective. In contrast, the bellicose martinet in Tigh shifts as well, becoming the more objective, reasoned voice of command. For the first time the officer buried within is revealed, and Tigh grows accordingly in stature.

But the show is not all Olmos’. Mary McDonnell also gets a chance to stretch her character away from the “ex-school teacher” and slightly insecure politico we’ve seen to date. In You Can’t Go Home Again, Roslin fairly blossoms into leadership, demonstrating she can be shown – but not necessarily lead. Her confrontation with Adama and his son is a marvel to watch. Until now, she has played a finely balanced game with them both, realising that she needs each of them to support her position, while also being aware of the gulf lying between the two of them.

But here, confronted with a Lee Adama fresh from his new-found convictions first seen in "Bastille Day" and closely allied to his father – both of them operating out of personal loyalty, she demonstrates that while she may need them both, she doesn’t rely on them. Her developing relationships with them both may suffer strain and breakage as a result but she’s not going to walk on eggshells. The needs of the many DO outweigh the needs of the one, and it is time Adama and Lee realised that.

Indeed, it is in this that Starbuck’s dilemma on the moon is very much a secondary consideration to the story and the audience. What holds here is the way the dynamics between the characters ebb and flow. Adama and Tigh draw apart, Roslin and Lee draw apart, but Adama and Lee - perhaps for the first time in Lee’s adult life – draw together, forcing Tigh and Roslin into an uneasy alliance. How will this affect their future relationships? Will Roslin be able to confide in Lee Adama? Will Lee and his father finally come to an understanding and allow each other into their respective worlds as father and son? Will Tigh be able to reconcile his friendship and respect for Adama with his abrupt – and wholly unwarranted – dismissal from CIC?

And what of Tigh and Lee Adama? But – most importantly of all, how will the CIC crew regard Adama in the future? Can there be no repercussions after all that we’ve seen? Perhaps. Forgiveness was very much in evidence throughout the last act of the episode: Adama to Thrace, Roslin to Adama, Adama and Tigh. But – the episode title pretty much says it all: you can’t go home again, and a lot has been said in this episode - as in “Act” - that simply can’t be ignored. RDM has avoided the “reset” button so far; it’s going to be interesting to see if he can continue to avoid it in the future, and allow the shift in dynamics between the characters to play itself out over time.

On Caprica, the Cylons have apparently stepped up their manipulations of Helo a notch: and they appear determine to test / increase his feelings for Valerii. “Love”, and possibly “procreation” seems to be at the heart of their manipulations. The evidence for this comes from the last few episodes:

  • 33: Helo scans the airwaves, failing to find any other signals. Valerii makes a comment about them being the only two people left on the planet, and the way she says it makes it hard to keep the words “Adam and Eve” from popping into one’s head – especially with all the other religious motifs that have surrounded our insight into Cylon aims (even if they are from “Six’s” perspective)
  • Act of Contrition: As a result of the (clearly-planted) "radio broadcast", they come across a fully-equipped radiation shelter, which does not appear to have been used, and which is more than cozily set-up for a long duration stay for two people.
  • This episode: When Helo suggests they pack up and leave the shelter, Valerii’s look is, for a moment, distinctly odd, and she challenges him with, “Unless you can think of a reason to stay here”, which comes close to being sultry in its undertone. Helo takes this to mean remaining in the fallout shelter, which he refers to as “home”. But they are in many ways already “home”: on Caprica, and Valerii’s comment seems tilted in this regard – seeking if he has identified a reason to stay on Caprica (i.e. her). Disappointment is almost evident when he states they should move on
  • This episode: No sooner is the decision made to move on than Cylon warriors turn up. In the ensuing firefight the surviving warrior makes no attempt to either kill or capture Helo, Instead settling on simply shooting up the place and ending the usefulness of a range of kitchen appliances and tools.
  • This episode: When Helo comes-to, Valerii is gone, and he’s no longer thinking about leaving the planet – he’s only concerned with what has happened to Valerii.

That the attraction is there is obvious: witness his shy embarrassment following Valerii’s "spontaneous" hug when they first hear the radio broadcast (“33”). It is fair to say that Valerii’s disappearance is the first attempt to ratch-up Helo’s feelings for her.

However, there is no potential weakness in this element of the story: During the fight in the restaurant, the Cylon warrior clearly made only a token attempt at killing Helo – although it was a pretty good effort in shooting up the kitchen as a whole. That he was not killed or at least taken prisoner again, should, by rights, alert Helo to the fact that something here isn’t quite right where the Cylons are concerned: why shoot-up the place and then not even bother to check whether he is dead or alive?

Turning to Baltar’s Six: this episode seems to suggest a subtle delineation between her and the Cylons. Previously, she has referred to them as “we” – implying she is still a part of them. Here she refers to the Cylons very much in the third person: “they”. Is this indicative of a possible shift in her loyalties, or just a simple turn of phrase, signifying nothing?

As to the Cylons themselves, “You Can’t” holds perhaps the most surprising revelation of all: that Raiders are bio-mechanical constructs. Until now, everything has apparently pointed to all but the humano-Cylons being mechanical constructs. "You Can't" turns this upside down, and raises a number of questions:

  • Are all Cylons bio-mechanical? Probably not, as Helo puts a shot straight through the head of a Cylon Centurion. Were there any organic matter to be contained therein, one would expect blood and/or gore to exit the wound. This does not appear to be the case.
  • Did the Cylons have developed bio-mechanical capabilities themselves, and used them first in a basic form with the Raiders, before going on to develop the humanoid constructs?
  • Could it mean that the very first Cylons developed by the Colonials were actually bio-mechanical in nature, rather than pure androids? (This speculation conflicts with Ron Moore's comments on the origin of Humano-Cylons in a webcast interview on TheFandom.com in October, 2005, as well as dialogue from the Mini-Series, which invariably speak of Cylons are purely mechanical.)

If the latter proves to be the case, it would certainly put a new angle on the conversation between Six and Doral on Caprica (Bastille Day) when they both refer to the Cylons as humanity’s children – as indeed the Six on Caprica did when talking to Baltar in the Mini-Series. It might also give a deeper reason for the initial Cylon revolt.

Of the entire episode, the Starbuck / Raider element is the most niggling. Both deeply fascinating for revealing more about Cylons, it is also causes a few winces given the ease with which she patched the ship and got it flying again – and with enough skill to survive a dogfight with Lee Adama.

In this respect, “You Can’t” was as contrived as "Act of Contrition" – but with the difference that the contrivances were somewhat more subtle and the story – for the most part – flowed a lot better than with "Act of Contrition".

Notes

  • Cylon Raiders are bio-mechanical in nature, and their biomass uses a breathable, oxygen-rich mix suitable for humans.
  • Vipers are atmospheric-capable - indeed, it appears they may have been regularly used in the atmospheres of Colonial worlds, given they are equipped with a parachute
  • Vipers can be refuelled in space (and presumably in relatively calm atmospheres).
  • Starbuck's damaged Viper disintegrates around her upon re-entry, compelling her to eject. The Cylon Raider that she disables and forces down on the moon is, when she finds it, notably spaceworthy.
  • Colonial flight suits are capable of full life support, both planet-side (Starbuck) and in space (Hot Dog). In the case of Vipers, the back section of the pilot’s seat appears in effect to be a life-support backpack that detaches from the rest of the seat following ejection.
  • Raptor cabins can apparently be depressurized and repressurized (Hot Dog’s rescue), adding to their versatility.
  • Non-oxygen atmospheres play havoc with Viper and Raptor engine systems, suggesting they are designed to operate in an O2-rich atmosphere.
  • Roslin has the same image that the pilots touch when leaving the Ready Room.
  • Colonials play billard pool.
  • A scene where Starbuck shaking off Apollo in the Cylon Raider is remarkably similar to how Apollo and Starbuck of the Original Series were waggling to not get shot down in a Cylon Raider in the episode The Hand of God.
  • Baltar is requisitioning something that requires the President’s authorization – the use of one of the Galactica’s nuclear warheads for his research.
  • William Adama is not above letting personal feelings rise above professional requirements.

Noteworthy Dialogue

Kara to the crashed Cylon Raider:

Kara: Are you... alive?

Official Statements

Statistics

External Links

"You Can't Go Home Again" at scifi.com

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